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Cablegate: Argentina: Update On Worst Forms of Child Labor Information


DE RUEHBU #2288/01 3381428
O 041428Z DEC 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 149662

1. Per reftel instructions, below please find post's update on the
worst forms of child labor in Argentina. Our response is keyed to
points found in reftel.

A. (SBU) Laws and regulations proscribing the worst forms of child

-- Law 20.774 sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years; in
rare cases the Ministry of Education may authorize a younger child
to work as part of a family unit. Children between the ages of 14
and 18 may work in a limited number of job categories and for
limited hours if they have completed compulsory schooling, which
normally ends at age 15. Special laws on rural and domestic work
also prohibit the employment of children under 14. Legal penalties
for employing underage workers range from 1,000 to 5,000 pesos ($350
to $1,750 ) for each child employed. Provincial governments and the
city government of Buenos Aires are responsible for labor law
enforcement. Labor authorities may grant special authorizations to
children under 14 on a case-to-case basis to perform artistic work.

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-- Argentina has not yet passed special legislation on child
prostitution, pornography or trafficking. However, the Criminal
Code imposes prison terms for these crimes. At the local level, the
Buenos Aires City Legislature passed legislation in mid-September
that increases penalties for those facilitating child exploitation
and compels tourist operators to abide by a code of ethics to
prevent minors from being sexually exploited. Penalties range from
USD 1,600 to USD 32,000 for individuals or companies charged with
'the promotion, publication, or provision of help, websites or
services to third parties so as to force children or teenagers to
participate in sexual activities, even when [the activities] do not
materialize.' Fines may be accompanied by 90-day arrest and
companies may face closure.

-- Argentina's minimum age for military recruitment is 18, and
enrollment is voluntary.

-- Argentina signed and ratified ILO Convention 138 on the Minimum
Age for Employment in 1996, and ILO Convention 182 on the
Eradication of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in 2001. In June
2006, the National Commission to Eradicate Child Labor (CONAETI)
formulated a list of hazardous jobs for children that is still
waiting approval from the Ministry of Labor (MOL). One of CONAETI's
ten sub-committees is dedicated to eradicating the worst forms of
child labor.

B) (SBU) Regulations for implementation and enforcement of
proscriptions against the worst forms of child labor

-- Legal penalties for employing underage workers ranged from 1,000
to 5,000 pesos ($350 to $1,750) for each child employed. Provincial
governments and the city government of Buenos Aires are responsible
for labor law enforcement.
-- Child labor complaints are made to judicial authorities or
provincial labor authorities, which may file charges before the
appropriate courts if the complaints involve the worst forms of
child labor.

-- The Ministry of Labor has hundreds of labor inspectors who have
been trained on child labor issues. However, none are specifically
assigned to conducting child labor inspections. Neither CONAETI nor
the 19 provincial Commissions for the Eradication of Child Labor
(COPRETIS) keep statistics on the number of child labor
investigations that are conducted in a given year or whether these
investigations have resulted in fines, penalties, or convictions.

-- Established in 2000, CONAETI falls under the purview of the
Ministry of Labor but is composed of representatives from all the
national Ministries, the Argentine Industrial Chamber (UIA), the
General Workers' Confederation (CGT) and the Catholic Church.
CONAETI has primary responsibility for developing action plans for
the gradual eradication of child labor. Argentina's federal system
delegates authority over labor issues to provincial labor
authorities, and many provinces have similar provincial commissions.
CONAETI works with the COPRETIs to coordinate national and
provincial efforts to eradicate child labor, but does not have
authority over the COPRETIs. In 2007, CONAETI organized two
national seminars with COPRETIs to provide training to provincial
authorities charged with enforcing child labor laws and raise
awareness regarding the 'worst forms of child labor'. During the
first meeting, there was a special panel on the worst forms of child
labor, and the COPRETIs were tasked with conducting informal
research to assess the extent of the problem in their territories.
The COPRETIs submitted their findings during the second meeting held

later this year.

C) (SBU) Whether there are social programs specifically designed to
prevent and withdraw children from the worst forms of child labor.

-- The Ministry of Education has a national scholarship program
designed to reintegrate children who have dropped out of school in
order to work. In 2007, the Ministry of Labor, CONAETI, and the
Federal Labor Council, and the Ministry of Education (MOE) signed an
agreement to expand this program for the 2008 school year to include
children who attend school and work at the same time. As a part of
the agreement, the Ministry of Labor provides the children's parents
with job training and job search assistance.

D) (SBU) Does the country have a comprehensive policy aimed at the
elimination of the worst forms of child labor?

-- Argentina developed a National Plan for the Eradication of Child
Labor in 2006, and all Ministries have committed to incorporating
the plan's objectives into their own operational plans and programs.
The provinces have also committed themselves to implementing the
plan. In June, CONAETI, together with UNDP, ILO and UNICEF, signed
a "Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation" to eradicate and
prevent child labor. The agreement aims to strengthen the family
group, prevent school desertion, and provide psychological and
health assistance to children. According to a 2007 ILO study
entitled 'Chil labor in Argentina: analysis and challenges for
public policies', Argentina has made significant progress in
developing policies aimed at the eradication of child labor, in
accordance with the ILO Program for Decent Work in the Americas. In
addition to CONAETI's plan and the MOU mentioned above, the study
cites the 2003 creation of an Observatory on Child Labor in the
Ministry of Labor, a 2004 survey on children and adolescents work
activities, the signing of a "Declaration of Argentine Companies
Against Child Labor", and national training of labor inspectors on
the issue as meaningful developments. The study also lists a
variety of programs the Argentine government has undertaken since
1997 to eradicate child labor in brick factories (1997), the
recycling industry (2002-03), agriculture (2002-04), and commercial
sexual exploitation (2003-05). In addition, the Argentine
government has worked with unions to develop strategies to prevent
and eradicate child labor (2003-05). The ILO report also notes
Argentina's leadership in developing a regional plan for Mercosur
and Chile to combat child labor, which identified the need for
policy consistency throughout the region and the need to develop a
national network to monitor and compile statistics on child labor
In October, CONAETI, the ILO, IOM, UNICEF, and the Telefonica
Foundation launched a seminar to prevent and eliminate child labor
in the recycling business. In August and September, the GOA also
worked with the IOM and provincial authorities in the tri-border
area with Brazil and Paraguay to address child sexual exploitation.

-- In law and in practice, the GOA provides free and compulsory
education for 13 years, beginning at age five. Still, attendance
rates were lowest among children from low-income households, and
access to schooling is limited in some rural areas of the country.

E) Is the country making continual progress toward eliminating the
worst forms of child labor?

-- According to CONAETI, child labor occurs primarily in the
agricultural, domestic service, textile, and recycling industries.
There is no information on the specific goods children produce, or
on the age and gender of working children, disaggregated by
industry, work, activity, or good.

-- Anecdotal evidence suggests that most children who work do so
for economic survival and are not subject to slavery, debt bondage,
or serfdom.

-- The press and local NGOs report that children were involved in
sexual exploitation, sex tourism, and drug trafficking, but there
are no reliable statistics to determine the extent of their
involvement. According to local NGOs, some Argentine children have
been trafficked within borders for the purposes of sexual
exploitation. Paraguayan and Bolivian children have been trafficked
into Argentina for the purposes of labor and sexual exploitation.


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